For most girls in Vietnam, the typical high school memories consist of a long slender white Ao Dai. For years, this white Ao Dai has become a symbol of class and grace that is not only cherished and respected but is also a unique image that belongs solely to Vietnam.  However, as the country steps further into the 21st century, the traditional white Ao Dai is gradually disappearing from school grounds.  In its place, instead, are cute little uniforms that trend those of its Asian counterparts.

singer Dinh Ung Phi Truong & actress Lan Ngoc (Dustin Nguyen’s daughter in Floating Lives) on the set of series “Menh Lenh Hoa Hong”

Tam Tit & Mina Lieu on the set of sitcom-series “I Love Viet Nam”

Which brings us to the age-old dilemma: tradition versus modernization or Ao Dai versus shirt-skirt uniforms.

For upcoming high school students, modern uniforms are more appealing in that it offers more comfort and less hassle in daily tasks. With the desert-like heat in most parts of Vietnam, the Ao Dais can be quite stuffy and irritable to wear for the entire course of  a day. Not only that, it’s inconvenient for students to partake in activities such as jump rope, running, hacky sack and biking. A button could come undone, dress tripped over and easily tangled then ruined. These disabilities are less worrisome with uniforms, as many would argue. Not to mention, insecurities also skyrocket when the slightest bit of weight is gained for bodily imperfections are ultimately magnified by the form-fitting attire (but from the half-full glass perspective, this ought to encourage anyone to stay fit).

Truong Quynh Anh & Wanbi Tuan Anh in upcoming movie “Bong Ma Hoc Duong

12 yr old model Le Hoang Bao Tran (2nd from the right) on the set of V.Music’s “Ban Than/Best Friend” MV

While modern uniforms are growing among teen girls, surveys indicate that 80% of high school  males still believe that Ao Dais are the most beautiful clothing a Vietnamese girl could wear, favoring it to the shirt and skirt alternative.

As for girls post-high school and continuing their studies abroad, many even brought along their Ao Dais to wear on special occasions and to keep a little piece of home with them.  The traditional gowns have also penetrated into many countries’ fashion as more and more come to appreciate the beauty of the Vietnamese Ao Dai.

The dilemma still stands as mixed opinions on uniforms continue building.  While uniforms offer a more adorable and versatile way of life, it could ultimately erase the elegance and beauty that has been a symbol of Vietnam for so long.

What are your opinions and thoughts on this matter?

More pop-culture depictions:

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The cast of series “Nhung Thien Than Ao Trang”

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The cast of series “Luc Lac Huyen Bi/The Mysterious Diety”

Bao Thy & Chi Thien in movie “Cong Chua Teen/Teen Princess”

Mai Phuong Thuy on the set of series “Am Tinh”